Friday: Steampunk World: Fashion & Mainstream

First, a little bit of housekeeping. I’ve moved the posts to update at 11am so people on Facebook actually get to see them. Assuming my auto-posts are working, of course…

Now, I am sure those of you who follow Steampunk fashion have noticed there are several categories.
There are those who believe Steampunk is a grassroots movement that should remain somewhat “underground,” characterized solely by maker-personalities building things from scrap metal and the amazing seamstresses who can weave the fabric and then sew it into something greater.
There are those who think of Steampunk as the thing that happened when Goths discovered brown.
And there are those who think of Steampunk as an opportunity for the world to rebrand the green movement, to encourage recycling and upcycling, to teach kids how to make things by first showing them how to repaint cheap garbage and later moving on to mad science and thrift shopping.

I’m more in this third camp. Sometimes I see other Steampunkers despair because it’s gone “main stream” (as though a movement set in history could be any more main stream). For example, this beautiful Prada lineup coming out this fall (the image links to Tor’s review of the lineup):

You can also find a video on the background of this line here. I notice there are no goggles. Or watches. So much for accessorizing. Maybe a steam powered walking stick…

Then there’s the movie lineup of the last 9 months and next 6… including such alternatively Steampunk movies as The Three Musketeers, with its unrivaled costuming, Hugo, with its incredible inventions and clockwork, and John Carter with its origins set in the time Steampunk early fiction was being written.

Then there are the highly popular music videos by that Bieber kid and Nicki Minaj. It’s a fact.¬† Steampunk needs the mainstream attention to bring new inventors into the fold. Sure, we’re seeing Disney movies with goggles and pretty gadgets, but Disney was in love with Steampunk before it had a name. All this attention serves to bring those of us wandering around in ascots more notoriety. And it makes the slew of conventions popping up everywhere have more meaning.

What does this mean for us? Or for the makers, the developers? It means the same thing it always has, when the mainstream starts “manufacturing” the “authentic new antiques” of years past. It means consumers get smarter, inventors improve on the mousetrap, and ingenuity rolls on. It is the backbone of Victorian industrialism that they continued to invent newer, more efficient things. (Or at least weirder things). So the maker ethos evolves while things like Apogaea and Burning Man take off. Why? Because they begat things like the Neverwas Haul. Even Miyazaki capitalized on that idea. So the moral of the story? If someone starts copying your idea with plastic imitations, improve on the schematics.

Somewhere in this post I had a point about mainstream Steampunk fashion…

As for me, I am thrilled because it means events like AnomalyCon keep growing, and the Colorado Steampunks have a reputation for awesome. So keep growing, Steampunk. I can’t quit you.

Wednesday: Adventure and Travel: Heat Waves

This time next week I’ll be on a plane, very close to landing at Haneda airport in Tokyo. With that in mind, after next Monday’s post, posts will be premeditated unless I somehow get the time to edit them with Japan news. Here’s hoping.

In the meantime, the heat waves are getting worse. Here in Colorado we currently have eight major forest fires raging. People in my neighborhood are contemplating fireworks, and my local police department is contemplating $1000 fines for sparklers. I’m glad we’re getting out of the heat–although it will be a situation of getting out of the frying pan and into the pot of boiling water, so to speak.

In the mean time, what are you doing to keep cool? Monday’s high was 102F here in Denver. For once, I am grateful for the enthusiastic AC in my office building. If you want a little more adventure than refrigeration can offer, though, I’ve compiled a list of thoughts for the best ways to cool down:

10. Running in the Sprinkler
Coming in last, but still an all-time favorite (unless you are into water conservation), run through the sprinklers. If you have kids, you can pretend it’s to keep them company. Don’t have kids? Borrow some. Don’t have a sprinkler? Local parks are always watering at inappropriately hot times:

9. Enjoy some FroYo at your local Frozen Yogurt establishment.
If you don’t know what FroYo is…you’re probably from somewhere less hippy-infested than Colorado. Try icecream. Or gelato.

8. Wash your car.
You’ll get wet. The dog will get wet. And then it will rain (we hope).

7. Hit the Pool.
If you don’t have a pool in your apartment complex/neighborhood rec center, you can always have the family dog dig a hole in the ground and fill it with water. Warning: This is only good for a few minutes.

6. Get to higher ground
Ironically, even though hot air rises, higher elevations tend to have cooler climates. If you’re in the Denver Metro area, Mt. Evans is less than an hour away and has a forecast 17F cooler than here in town. Don’t go south or north though, there be fires in them thar hills.

5. Go Boating.
There’s little in this world more satisfying than the wind in your hair, the water rushing underneath your craft… Wash Park has boats for hire, if you want to paddle your way along. You can also rent kayaks at places like Confluence Kayaks, or bend the definition of boating a bit and go rafting.

4. Fill Your Pool With Soda.
Wait, what? Don’t actually do this:

3. Go Cliff Jumping.
Not to be confused with jumping off a cliff. Here’s an example up at Guffey Gorge. Good for cooling off if only for the chill running down your spine.

2. Hit the Beach.
If you live in Colorado, your definition of “the beach” is probably either Water World or the Cherry Creek Reservoir. I recommend expanding your definition to include riverbanks.

1. Take a Cruise.
Jamie recommends the Alaskan Cruise–you’ll cool off, alright!


Obviously, some of my preferred methods for cooling off require water–I wonder why that is? If you live in the desert, I recommend that you try splitting a cactus to cool off. Good luck, and stay out of the heat!

Monday: Relationships: The Softer Side of the Rock

Today’s post is an ode to the masculine side of the yin-yang. I know that some relationships manage to balance on a fine line wherein both partners take equal amounts of initiative and alternate decision making in such a way so that they are unequivocally balanced. However, if that were the norm–rather than just a sought-after existence–people wouldn’t ask stupid questions like “So, who wears the pants?” when they first meet a new couple.

As if wearing pants dictated a level of control over one’s partner. 50s stereotypes prevail. But I digress. Today, I wanted to talk about when the testosterone breaks down.

First of all, I want to get a couple of things out of the way. We learned in some of my early psychology classes oh so long ago–ok, not THAT long ago–that testosterone isn’t just the guy chemical. We all have it on some level, and it is a primary factor in sex drive not just for males but for females as well. While there are other factors involved, it’s also true that more masculine personalities have estrogen and, as with females, males experience a rise and fall of both throughout the course of their “cycle” (which, for most, is roughly a 28-35 day rotation). Don’t believe me? Check out these sources: Testosterone in women and Jed Diamond Talks About Irritable Male Syndrome.

What does this mean for a person like me, who generally ignores her feminine status for three out of four weeks a month? I think Danielle Corsetto best sums it up in Girls With Slingshots:

It’s an awesome comic, a funny tongue-in-cheek look at all sorts of messed up 20-and-30-something relationships.

This comes up because, most of the time, I’m definitely the go-getting, show-stopping, my-way-or-the-highway type. I open the doors, I go to work, grunt with the guys and make the wages to pay for the family to eat. No biggie, it’s a stereotypical 50s relationship (except that I also do a lot of the cooking, but I enjoy that). I’m the initiator (at least since she conceived, almost two years ago). It’s a part of the cycle of relationships that one member of the couple is going to be flipping more switches at some point. But when that week rolls around, I need it to be the other way around. Masculine types of all sexes can relate–we encourage the dependence on us because we appreciate the cuddles. As Andy Griggs says–“She don’t know that when I hold her, she’s really holding me.”

So, when you Scorpios find your Libra showing and find it difficult to express why you take it personally when your partner’s not paying enough attention today–well, I still haven’t got a good way to handle it. Turtle sundaes and a cat-on-the-book “I need your attention today” sort of approach. Hopefully for you, it won’t break down your steely exterior too much to ask for man cuddles.

And for you girls reading this out there–don’t ever, ever tease a masculine type for being emotional. If you do, you probably won’t see it again for a while. This blog is about how to build the trust, not break it down. And don’t forget the ice cream in this terrible heat wave!

Friday: Steampunk World: Global Warming and Science

There’s little I dislike talking about more than politically touchy subjects. But given the rolling heat waves causing all kinds of crazy storms–and it’s only barely summer, yet–it seemed appropriate. Also, I came across some amazing articles talking about Global Warming Science in the ages of Queen Victoria, the Dawn of Flight, the Age of Napoleon, and Claude Pouillet.

I will sum up their contents. Basically, Science determined in the mid-1800s that CO2 and other engine-related pollutants were changing the moisture level in the air, which in turn changed the amount of sun the atmosphere absorbed and distributed. In a nutshell, greenhouse gasses cause hotter temperatures. Ironically, as many of you have probably heard, motor vehicles solved the pollution problem of horse manure. At least temporarily.Now, if Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had heard about this problem, you can bet they’d have solved it already.

Google Victorian Era Global Warming and you get some really interesting results, not the least of which is the apparent public opinion that starvation, obesity, poverty, and pollution were all nonissues in that era. Well, that’s why we have Steampunk–for the fantasy of alternate history. That silly note aside, I did find an amazing article arguing that global warming demands more airships. Read it, it’s fascinating and well written by John Rennie.

Beneath the Crust addresses Global Warming if it happened very rapidly–from luscious wonderland to crusty desert in the blink of an eye, so to speak. I wonder what Tesla would think of my bastardization of his invention.

In better news, the Steampunk Community has rallied together to Recycle Everything, including Guitars, Armor, Animal Heads, Robocop, and Kittens. No animals were harmed in the making of this ridiculous article.



On another note, there are some interesting things going on this week. This evening the Colorado Steampunks will be seeing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (link goes to event). I won’t be there, as I’ll be seeing Brave. Other than ConTemporal, there don’t seem to be any other big events happening this weekend. Remember, stay cool in a green way–wave a palm frond!

Wednesday: Travel and Adventure: Under the Big Blue Dry Thing!

OK, weird title for a Wednesday, but I was feeling rather dehydrated after the sudden heat wave we’ve been experiencing in Denver.

So, since it’s the middle of the week, we’re gradually approaching the weekend, and a few amazing adventures of our own. Friday, Pixar’s Brave comes out. We’re exceptionally excited because it’s a first Pixar original story, AND it’s the first story Pixar has done with a female primary protagonist. Plus, Pixar is awesome, so go watch the trailer if you haven’t seen it. We’re going to take Aubri with us to the theater. She has actually seen several movies (Captain America, Lorax, Avengers, one other I can’t remember right now) and the only one she got too vocal for was Avengers. She wanted to talk every time something blew up.
So, we’ll see how she does–this will be one of our own adventures.

In other news, as the summer is kicking off, so are the “Stay cool in the heat” sort of events. One such is the Winter Park Chocolate Festival. Admission is free, if you don’t count the long drive to get there. We’ll be there Saturday, and we are excited about seeing some of our favorite chocolatiers¬† again. We picked one at the Denver Chocolate Festival (held the Fri/Sat before Mother’s Day) to get some truffle gift sets for our hosts in Japan. Now we just have to place the order–truffles don’t keep well on the shelf, and not just because we eat them.

If you just want to get away for a while and let your kids run screaming through various water spurts, but you don’t want to pay WaterWorld $45 for the privilege to sit on their benches, try one of Aurora’s “water parks.” Southlands has two–a sprayground in front of the AMC theater, and a series of raining mushrooms closer to Barnes and Noble. Aubri loves water, so she got to run through the mushrooms (with Momma’s help, of course) yesterday. Thank goodness–it was 95 degrees in the shade. There’s also a sprayground up at Great Plains Park, where Iliff turns into Jewell just past Tower. I haven’t tried that one yet, but we might this week.

One of my favorite hiking areas has a river running through it. We went a couple months ago to Castlewood Canyon State Park. The river keeps some of the rocky areas cooler, but expect it to be hot. The nice thing is that most of the trails are easy-to-moderate, even with a kid, but you can go scrambling wherever you like. I picked up lots of nice petrified wood in the river–shhh. It’s a state park though, so entry is $7. There are plenty of picnic tables around at the parking lots. Check the park map to see all the hiking routes–the cave trail is cool just for seeing what rain does to rock conglomerates.

If the outdoors aren’t your style… Well, I don’t really know how to help you, but I hear indoor skydiving is fun. Or you could head over to Enchanted Grounds for some board games.

Try to stay cool in this heat!

Monday: Family and Relationships: A Reflection

So sorry this was not posted on time! I thought I had it saved with the scheduled date, but apparently I only saved a draft… It won’t happen again!

Today is Monday, and with Monday comes a discussion of relationships–also the usual Monday frustrations, forgetting to get off at the right exit, etc.

This past weekend was Gay Pride weekend here in Colorado, one of many celebrations across the nation during what some dub “Pride month.” I also recently found out that Tokyo has a huge Pride celebration, but it’s in April, so we’ll have to miss it when we visit.

Jamie and I always try to make an appearance, and we are always surprised at how many supportive people are there. Granted, like many towns, Denver likes the excuse to have a party where booze is involved. But it’s still nice to see people making some kind of effort. More importantly, I think a lot of people need to see that they have support everywhere–even from companies who don’t appear to be supportive.

But my topic today is more about family pride.

Aubrianna Willow turned 1 year old yesterday, and things like losing the infancy of your first child will make you pause to reflect on the year, and your relationship with your child. She’s saying many words fairly clearly and trying to say more. She’s walking, if you aren’t looking. And most importantly, she’s waltzed into the hearts of many dozens of individuals. Jamie and I occasionally exchange glances and wonder what we were thinking (Aubri has uncanny timing for waking up during intimate moments), but we share many more moments where something amazing Aubri has just learned to do tugs at our heart strings.

Which brings me to my thoughts for the day. Spend time with your family. You might have heard it said; What good is it for a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?
Zig Ziglar said “I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”

Of course, that takes effort. We talked about date nights before, but it’s more than just date nights. Every week we try to go on a new adventure to a park, mountain, or trail we haven’t visited before. We usually treat Sundays as family days–everyone has a different day that might work for them. What are the rules? No errands, no business. We get away and try to turn off the electronic devices.

And eat dinner together. We have two dining tables and a kitchen counter bar, and a habit of eating together in the living room–but we cook dinner together and we eat together. Aubri might not appreciate it much now, when she’s too young to help cook. But when she’s older she’ll know that she can talk to her moms. And that’s more important than catching up on the news or the game while we eat in different rooms.

You don’t have time, you tell me. You don’t have time for a heart attack or divorce, either. Neglect your heart and you neglect your health. They will not always forgive you for forgetting to call.

On a more positive note, we shot an adorable wedding with fun beautiful people on Saturday. It’s always refreshing to hear unique vows. They’ve been together a long time and this is her third marriage, but his first. Everyone cried–including two of her three teenagers. The wedding was up at Snow Mountain Ranch, which was a surprisingly nice facility considering its status as a YMCA. I got a few country songs stuck in my head, but the message I took away can be summed up with a few songs:

“I hope you dance,” Lee Ann Womack.
“Dance With the One That Brought You.” Shania Twain
“One More Night.” Diamond Rio

One day I hope my wife starts reading my blog so she can catch me being sweet and cheesy and I’ll get points for it.
That’s my other piece of advice–plan romance, spontaneous romance only happens with practice!

Friday: Steampunk World: Water Sports and Air Conditioning

Today I decided to save you from the rather dangerous hobby of googling “Victorian Water Sports.”
Although you probably did it just now anyway.

Victorian Water Sports should be part of everyone’s vernacular. If only for the interesting dinner conversation.
After a little brain-damaging research, I got to the heart of Victorian-era summer fun. Apparently even women went canoeing, although it was for “leisure” and not to build up muscle and competition like the guys. This image from the Illustrated London News emphasizes the beautiful–and heavy–costumes they’d doll up in to go out and cool off.

Credit to Julie's Antique Prints

I was honestly surprised by how many women are in boats in this picture, and I wonder if the women on shore are longing for the relative freedom of a jam-packed river rowing trip.

I’ve also discovered the origin of sunbathing. No wonder women lingered around, soaking up the sun. What else could you do if you went to the beach looking like this?

I imagine the sheer energy involved in walking to the beach in twelve layers of flannel would require frequent cat naps in the sun.

On a cooler note, some amazing genius has reinvented a steam engine powered fan. I can’t find the credit for the original inventor, so if anyone knows…
Apparently air conditioning itself is very Steampunk, as the first electrical air conditioner was invented in 1902. Who’d’ve thought? I think it’s easy for us all the believe people were still using candles, cooking over campfires and using outhouses until the 1950s. Maybe it’s just me…

For those of you looking for something fun to do while blistering under our yellow star’s affections, check out the Colorado Renaissance Festival in all your Steampunk glory. They love it when you “time travel.” Don’t worry, the Storm Troopers do it too.
Next weekend there’s a new Steampunk convention in town–well, sortof. Of all places for a fan convention to crop up, Chapel Hill, NC has Contemporal June 21-24. They’re bringing in Studio Foglio, too, so they must be hoping for a big head count. Also starting next weekend, Steampunkinetics, a really cool Steampunk-inspired art gala in New York. It’s on display until September 2.

So what are you up to this week? I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I’m going to put on my goggles and show my Steampunk Pride with a little color this weekend!

Credit to Quinn Anya